Dexter is a boy who loves three things: his mother, pork chops, and the ""sound of Johnny Cotton's clarinet."" That last one...

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THE OLD COTTON BLUES

Dexter is a boy who loves three things: his mother, pork chops, and the ""sound of Johnny Cotton's clarinet."" That last one makes Dexter feel ""the blue-down blues, and the deep-downshaking, slow-laughing feel-goods."" This city-dwelling boy, who has just one parent, has the strong desire to play, too; his dream of having a clarinet is not possible, but the kindly Johnny shares his time and encourages the boy with a story and a gift--his own father's harmonica. So Dexter comes to love a fourth thing: playing his harmonica with Johnny Cotton. England (3 Kids Dreamin', 1997) paces the story perfectly; there is no quick solution to his initial disappointment, but a more satisfying, realistic answer. Elements of the story are familiar, but this is a good tale of a talented boy with a one-track heart. The illustrations and design of the book are all of a piece: City doorways and interiors are stylized; the people are portrayed with skill, while Dexter, in particular, is animated and easy to identify with. A depiction of Johnny's deceased father, blowing on the harmonica in heaven, is an effective evocation of the joy of music, and the distinctively African faces of the angels are radiantly done.

Pub Date: April 1, 1998

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1998